DWI pleas in North Carolina – Sometimes, DWIs end in pleas. Here, we discuss what kind of plea deals that may take place and why some people decide to take a plea deal rather than taking the DWI to trial. As always, this blog is intended for informational purposes only and is not intended as a substitute for the advice and counsel of a DWI lawyer.
DWI is not reduced to lesser charge in North Carolina
Do not ever expect that a plea deal will include mitigating a DWI down to a lesser charge (such as reckless driving) and pleading guilty to that lesser charge instead of the DWI. This is not something that happens in Mecklenburg County or the surrounding areas. North Carolina is very tough on DWI.
The main reason for taking a plea deal is typically to receive some kind of benefit. Most commonly, with DWIs, the benefit comes in the form of a dismissal of the accompanying charges. A DWI attorney will often work out a plea deal whereby the accompanying charges, such as speeding, resisting arrest, open container, etc. will be dismissed in exchange for a guilty plea on the DWI.
In general, a prosecutor can offer to recommend a particular sentence to the judge in exchange for a guilty plea. For example, a prosecutor may offer to recommended a probation only sentence to a judge in exchange for a guilty plea on a criminal charge. Sentencing, however, is up to the judge, not the prosecutor. While a judge may listen to the input of both sides, ultimately sentencing is up to the judge, so long as it falls within the permissible sentencing guidelines. Whether the result of a guilty plea or a guilty verdict after trial, upon conviction of DWI, a person will be sentenced according to North Carolina’s DWI sentencing guidelines.
Sometimes the DWI defendant simply does not want to go through a trial. Ultimately, this decision is their choice. The defense attorney may explain the possible defenses in the case, trial strategy, the strengths and weaknesses of the case, and sometimes whether they think a plea or a trial is a better option. However, the decision to take a plea or go to trial lies with the defendant alone.
If you are in need of a DWI lawyer in North Carolina, contact us to discuss your options.